It’s that time of year. Things are slowing down a bit in college basketball news, as we wait to hear the official word from kids on whether they are NBA-bound or returning to school. Most coach-less programs are getting guys hired, and soon, things will start to take shape for the 2011-2012 season. So let’s take a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling in the ACC at this point.
Is this a surprise to anyone? How many teams in the last five years can say that their three best players, regardless of age, who were surefire first-round picks are going to be returning to school? Roy Williams’ group is already an odds-on favorite to win it all next year, and it’s easy to see why. UNC’s last two championship teams have each had a “big three.” In ’05 it was Felton, McCants, and May. In ’09 it was Hansbrough, Lawson, and Ellington. Could Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller be the next big three to win it all for the Dean Domers? Don’t forget about Kendall Marshall, either. Wow, stacked…
Duke Incoming Freshmen Guards
With Kyrie Irving’s departure to the NBA after just one, abbreviated year under Coach K, get ready to hear Austin Rivers’ and Quinn Cook’s name quite a bit. Rivers is the headliner, as he is rated the number one recruit in his class by many recruiting services, but Cook is also going to play a big role in Duke’s backcourt next year as the floor general and distributor. Duke’s team will be young next year but they won’t be lacking talent.
When you are replacing the likes of Sidney Lowe and Paul Hewitt, you really have nowhere to go but up. Brian Gregory proved himself at Dayton and now has the duty of basically starting at ground-zero with Georgia Tech–similar situation with new NC State coach Mike Gottfried. If there was ever a time to be a new head coach in the ACC, this would be it.
Things are not good at The U when Harvard’s head coach says “no thanks” to the opportunity to leave the Ivy League and join the ACC ranks. Miami is one of six programs nationally to have a vacant head coaching position right now, and they are by far the most high-profile of that group. Say good night to any last-second recruiting opportunities, Canes’ fans, this is going to be an interesting rebuilding process.
Look for Mr. Greenberg to be firmly entrenched on the proverbial “hot seat” for the entirety of this coming season. Make it four years in a row that the Hokies have been left out of the NCAA Tournament, and Seth Greenberg’s reactions are just becoming running jokes nation-wide. At some point, he’ll realize that you have to play someone out-of-conference to bolster that tournament resume. But, hey, everyone learns at their own pace I guess. Minus his two best players from last year’s squad, Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, this could be another long year for ol’ Seth.
ACC National Perception
This just stings to admit, but at this point it is hard to ignore: the ACC is not the ACC right now. Sure, UNC and Duke remain strong, but when the conference is at its peak is when the middle of the pack is strong, and that is just not the case right now. There is potential, but a lot will depend on whether or not guys from these 3-7 teams return to school–i.e. Jordan Williams, Reggie Jackson, Chris Singleton. Two out of those three are likely to go, and the ACC is going to need some unproven players to step up in order to have its image restored.